A couple of days ago I sat down with an illustrious group of Ipswich gentlemen for their morning repast and reparte. (I may have to quit going to work so I can join them more often!) The text for this story is from an article written a while back by Beverly Perna, reprinted with permission.
If you want to know where the real Town Fathers are, you can catch them at Sofia’s Restaurant on Market Street.
Most mornings there are four to as many as nine seasoned seniors, average age 80, and one youngster of 48 who meet for their daily roundtable. The core group has met regularly for about ten years. They are soon caught up in the daily verbal fencing of riposte, counter-riposte, and an occasional touché.
“We have no rules, no dues, no regulations, no agenda,” said Bill George of their daily meeting.
Jim Geanakakis said the morning usually starts with, “Tee nayah,” Greek for “What’s new?” It is difficult not to eavesdrop and audit a class at this impromptu Ipswich University. There is humor, pathos, political commentary, history, religion, sports—no topic is out of bounds. “We cover all facets,” said Geanakakis.
Local politics is frequently discussed, and the group has its own insiders to the workings of the town. Bill George and Jack Beagan both served as Selectmen, and Yogi Markos was on the Finance Committee and Planning Board.
National politics gets frequent analysis. George said the group was “moderate Conservative.” All are fervent in their patriotism, each having served in either the military or the Reserves. Jake Burridge, who will be 94 in January (when the article was written), is always in the lead when the VFW participates in a parade or ceremony.
Occasionally, the decibels rise as the group sorts through a topic. One of the staff at Sofia’s shared a memory of how one morning the group got in a funny row about Morse Code and sat spelling words in dots and dashes. And so the morning went, back and forth, the repartee that characterizes the coffee hour—no thin skins, no hard feelings.
“We come here for the comradeship,” said Duke.